Why do dogs Growl and what does it mean

Growling is part of the language of dogs, and understanding what our dog wants to say is essential, especially in moments of aggression and fear.

Animals, even if they do not speak like us, are able to express feelings, for which they communicate with each other using sounds, gestures and postures. Knowing the meaning of growling in dogs can help us understand what these animals mean to us.

Dogs use all this expressive arsenal to indicate their emotional state; moreover, they can use the same gesture in very different situations.

Do dogs talk to us?

Dogs have a whole repertoire of vocalizations with which they communicate with each other, with other animals and with ourselves.

  • Barking. Barking is the sound that dogs emit most frequently and can appear in different contexts: they are used to signal alarm, warning, play, attention seeking, excitement… Wolves and northern dogs do not use barking as their main form of communication, as other domesticated dogs might do.
  • Howls. More typical of wolves and northern dogs such as the Husky or the Alaskan Malamute, in the natural environment the howls are used to delimit a territory, locate members of the pack or hunt. In addition, in dogs they are also used very often as a reaction to a loud noise, such as an ambulance siren.
  • Growls. They are generally associated with situations that involve the presence of a certain aggression. These are warnings or threats expressed in the face of an attack, but they can also occur in normal situations, such as gaming.
  • Moans. The moans or moans can appear in situations that cause frustration in the dog; they can involve a signal of reconciliation, in an attempt by the dog to put an end to the situation that is causing him stress.
  • Puffs. The puffs can be due to excitement, stress or, simply, to the fact that the weather is hot and the dog is thirsty (it is, in fact, a means that the animal has at its disposal to lower its body temperature).

Meaning of growl in dogs

As we said, the same sound or gesture can be expressed in different contexts and take on a completely different meaning. To be able to interpret the emotional state of our dog, we must learn to observe the context.

In addition, each dog has its own personality and can be more or less noisy, regardless of the situation in which it finds itself.

To understand the language of growling in dogs, we will analyze the context and observe other manifested signals of the animal:

  • Game growls. There are dogs that growl as they play, without this leading to a form of warning for their playmate. However, sometimes this attitude can be misinterpreted by another dog or person, leading to conflict.
  • Warning growls. To these, however, we must pay attention, since the dog is experiencing a situation of profound discomfort and wants us to keep at a distance. The body posture is very typical: the body is tense and the dog shows his teeth and can look fixedly or sideways…
  • Growls of pain. A dog may growl or scream if it is in pain and we are forced to manipulate it.

Meaning of the growl and behavior problems

We have already seen what are the reasons why dogs can growl. The stimuli that can induce this behavior are numerous: the lack of socialization is one of the most frequent.

It is very important to offer the dog very different and varied stimuli during the growth period, so that he gets used to their presence and does not present problems, once the animal has reached maturity.

Many dogs tend to growl in situations they weren’t exposed to when they were puppies, such as when dealing with small children or people on the move (bicycles, motorcycles or people running), when they need to bathe or be brushed, or get in the car or go to the vet…

In these situations, punishment does not represent a solution, because it would only increase stress and aggression in the animal. If these situations are a problem in the daily life of the adult dog, we must consult a behavior expert, to try to accustom the animal to each situation.

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